After series of bombardment of suspected camps of militants in creeks of Ogun and Lagos states Last weekend, there is palpable tension in the core Niger Delta areas of Delta, Bayelsa and rivers states with many residents worrying that weekend’s development could be a test run for a military onslaught against targeted creeks in the states.
This is happening just as leader of Ijaw nation and elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark vowed that any dialogue between the Federal Government and militants in the Niger Delta would not yield result without involvement of Ijaw leaders.
Nigerian army reportedly stated Saturday that it killed no fewer than 114 suspected militants in attacks on militants’ camps in the south-west of the country especially in targeted militant camps in Ogun and Lagos states. Director of the Defence information, Brig Gen Rabe Abubakar confirmed the operation. However, the operation which residents in other Niger Delta states now see as dress rehearsal for allegedly planned onslaught of suspected camps of militants in Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers sates has instigated panic among people with many consideringrelocation. But the reported dialogue between the federal government and militant leaders served as reassurance for many other residents who hope that their worst fears will not manifest given @progress being recorded.
On Saturday, Clark however protested the reported dialogue with militants arguing that any such move by the federal government that does n ot carry Ijaw leaders along would fail. He stated this at the Ijaw leaders consultative council meeting with Gov. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa and Delta state Deputy Governor, Kingsley Otuaro in Warri. The meeting was aimed at reaching common ground on the renewed militancy and its impact on the Niger Delta and the country. A communiqué issued at the end of the closed door meeting called for the immediate restructuring of the Nigerian nation along the lines of peaceful federalism as panacea for the sustainable development of Nigeria.
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“As a demonstration of sincerity of commitment to dialogue, Federal Government should immediately withdraw the military from all occupied Ijaw communities, particularly Gbaramatu kingdom,” the statement said. The meeting also called on the Federal Government to immediately release the 10 innocent students of Gbaramatu kingdom arrested by the security agents even as it condemned “the move to scrap the Nigerian Maritime University approved by the previous administration with temporary site at Kurutie and called for the immediate takeoff of the university.
“The forum also urged the militant groups of the Niger Delta to cease further attacks on crude oil and gas facilities and embrace the dialogue offered by the Federal Government, the communiqué added. But the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND claimed weekend that it had reached a peace agreement with the federal government to renew the stability in the oil-rich region with part of the deal being detained Biafra activist, Nnamdi Kanu and other imprisoned activists slated to be freed if attacks on oil installations stopped. Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Alli, said recently that government cannot rule out the use of force in dealing with militants.
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